On School Auditions and the Relief of Being Through With Them

Nothing has made me more aware that I am no longer in school than the fact that it’s starting again. And while, over the summer, I lived in a house that was next door to one elementary school and down the street from another, and believe me, I’m more than happy to not live on a street where every other vehicle twice a day will be a yellow school bus… it’s sometimes even more painful to live right down the street from your alma mater.

Yes. My new apartment is about a half mile from my former university. If I lived on the other side of the building, I would be able to see campus from my windows.

My still-in-school friends all moved in on Monday and Tuesday of this past week. I also happen to live with three college seniors. This means that this week was many many days of me being reminded that I AM NO LONGER A STUDENT.

This is kind of a terrifying notion for me. Firstly, it’s terrifying for the same reason that affects all twenty-two year olds who weren’t smart enough to directly choose grad school hibernation: the routine of classes, meal plans, and a steady roof over my head is gone. But this change in my life also affects something deeper, something closer to my heart, and something I’m not sure I can let go of yet: my nerd-dome.

It’s time to admit it in full, everyone. I, Rachel, am a  huge nerd. (I’m sure that was actually pretty apparent, but let’s pretend it wasn’t so I can keep writing, ‘kay?) As a young child, I jumped up and down at the idea of new school supplies. Getting school clothes and carefully selected what I’d wear (and now, years later, questioning what was going on in my head) was the highlight of the summer. I just liked being in school. Even when math caused physical and mental pain for me (grades 3-12) I still liked school in general.

And now… it’s all gone. Gone! As I drive past the university on my way to work or the gym or whatever, I see my friends walking to classes and I weep, readers. Because as much as I detested papers and the like… I really loved learning in a classroom, whether it be an actual desks-and-chairs classroom or on a stage. And while I can take a class here and there, it’ll never be the same unless I choose to one day go to grad school.

Two nights ago, I went out for dinner and a chat with one of my professors… except she’s not one of my professors anymore. That makes me so sad. I feel like I really came into myself in my last year of college- I was willing and able to do more, socially and theatrically, I had my hands in a lot of projects, and I became closer to a lot of people, including my professors. I stated many times in my final year that I wished I had one more year to really reap the benefits of everything that was happening. I feel like I still have years’ worth of things to learn from her, and everyone else in the department, and sadly, I can’t just walk over to the theatre trailer every day to do it (even though it’s right down the road and I am sorely, sorely tempted.)

And then the final proof that I am truly no longer a theatre major at my alma mater came today: AUDITIONS. The first week of each semester is when the auditions happen, and for the last four years, I’ve spent the months before preparing for them, stressing over whether I’d chosen the right monologues, convinced I wouldn’t be cast even if I had (which, for three years, was true), trying not to construct cast lists in my head but doing it anyway because everyone else was, and having monologue parties with people I trusted enough to not tear me down or intimidate me two days before auditions. It was so strange to wake up this morning and not feel like I was going to throw up.

And you know what? It was great. Nothing like a step away from the process to make you realize how much you hated something.

(I feel I should stop for a second and add that I loved my school’s theatre department. But getting into shows was and is competitive, especially for girls, and consciously or unconsciously, the cast list can be a status symbol.)

And I really did hate them. I hated the anxiety. I hated the not knowing. I hated people telling you that they already know who was getting the part I really wanted, and even though I knew that most of the time they were wrong, there was always that creeping doubt. I hated that, if a professor was casting a show and the audition went poorly, I was ashamed to go to their class the next day and feeling like I had to spent the rest of the semester re-proving myself. I hated that people insisted on waiting for the callback and cast lists together, which was guaranteed to be awkward once the lists came out, unless everyone got something or didn’t. It was just a totally un-fun experience.

I actually really like auditioning, and maybe this was just my view of it, but I always felt like school auditions were a race, way more than real-world auditions. You’ve got four years to prove yourself, so get in there and get as many shows as you can. To me at least, “real-world” auditions aren’t such a big deal because they’re so often and with so many people that thinking about them 24/7 is just pointless. You prepare as much as you can, you audition as well as possible, you stew about it for a bit, and then you let it go.

School auditions? No. They were so stressful and caused my roommate and me to have conversations that began with things like, “Did you ever wonder what it would be like to have a normal major?” Part of the frustration and the heartache for me came because I worked really hard and just really really wanted a show, but I also just think that somehow, school auditions are a countdown: “you only have this many more chances.” I don’t even really know why; it’s not a job on the line, it’s not the deciding factor on whether you’ll be able to pay rent next month, and fifty years from now, no one (well, except maybe you) will remember that you lost out on that part. But whatever the reason I was so stressed, I am so glad I’m not going through that this weekend. To my friends who are currently preparing for callbacks or mourning the lack of them, I salute you. Keep going. It’s totally worth it… but you’ll probably be glad when you’re done, too.

(Unrelated comment: Can I just reveal that I am typing this while preparing to sleep on the pull-out couch at my parents’ house because I don’t have a bed here anymore? Yeah. Holy freak.)


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